Research

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Eden Cenote is a beautiful example of the collapse features that populate one of my fieldwork areas.

Research Focuses Include:

Karstified carbonate terrains and caves, their scientific study and socio-economic management:

  • Hydrogeology, geochemistry, geomorphology, and sedimentology
  • Paleoenvironmental records of sea level, climate change, and landscape evolution from sediments, speleothems, and fluid inclusions in speleothems.

Applied research includes water resource management, remote mapping of hydrological resources, biological interactions at the ecosystem to the bacterial level, geo-archaeology, and water born contaminant and disease vectors.

Rapid development has now put roads through to many of the sites we used to access via horses.

Rapid development has now put drive-able roads through to many of the sites that I used to access with horses.

Field Research experience includes:

  • Neo-tropical coastlines and large-scale carbonate platforms, such as the Yucatan, Florida and Bahamas
  • Tracing water and contaminant flows using environmental and introduced tracers
  • Glaciated and mantled karst of Ontario, New York state, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri
  • Alpine karst of the Pacific North West including Vancouver Island and the Rockies.
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Hiking out to an alpine site is a heck of allot of fun.

Instrument Development:

I have used a fair number of environmental sensors and flow monitoring loggers for my work.  While most are brilliantly engineered for the jobs they are designed for, they often leave much to be desired when it comes to research in caves.  So I started building my own. The Cave Pearl Project grew out of those humble beginnings, and we are finally seeing results from our inexpensive data logging system that are comparable to commercial instruments.  The current generation includes most of the features I’ve wanted in high end equipment from the very beginning:

  • One full year of operation on standard AA batteries
  • Small portable housings that can be easily carried into the caves (esp. while diving)
  • Common easily assembled (and repaired!) components, user editable software
  • CSV format files on standard micro-SD cards (ie: no custom download cables)
  • Color coded indicator LED’s so you know the unit is working when you deploy it

 (SeeA Flexible Arduino-Based Logging Platform for Long-Term Monitoring in Harsh Environments
Sensors 2018, 18(2), 530; doi:10.3390/s18020530 to download the PDF)

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My first instrument network was installed in high elevation caves. The latest generation are underwater.

Even modest research budgets can sustain a “network” of these sensors, gathering data from multiple points in a cave system. This distributed information gathering capability will mean that future models of seasonal cycles, flow direction, and contaminant dispersal, can be based on substantial time-series data sets, instead of being constrained to information gathered on a few sample dives:

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